Friday Speak out!: Don’t Give Up on the Story in Your Heart, Guest Post by Ruth J. Hartman

Friday, March 30, 2012
Don’t Give Up on the Story in Your Heart

by Ruth J. Hartman

I had this story in my head, the one I’d always wanted to write. We all have one, just a different one for every writer. Mine was about a stray cat rescue. It started out with a prompt for an anthology about cats. I couldn’t believe it! Someone actually was asking for exactly what I wanted to write. How often does that happen? I wrote my short story and submitted it. It was accepted at the tail end of their process.

The only problem with the short time between writing, acceptance and publication, was there was no time for me to check out the other stories in the anthology before it went to print. That turned out to be a problem.

Here I was so excited. It was my first story published, after all. And, of course I couldn’t wait to get my copy so I could show it to everyone I knew.


The day I got my copy, I checked out my story first, just to reassure myself I really had a story in there. I was really a published author. I smiled. My story was there. I decided to read the other stories before I passed the book along to my mom and mother-in-law.

Not good. My sweet, funny romance was tucked in the middle of a book of erotica. Yep, you heard me right. Mine was the only one without descriptions that might make some timid souls hide under their beds to read it. I read story after story, desperately hoping there were more like mine. A couple like mine. Even one sweet, romance like mine. But no. The others were pure, unabashed erotica. I have nothing against that; it just wasn’t the right place for my story.

I lent the book to my mom and mother-in-law with instructions to not read the other stories unless they were willing to get more than they bargained for. And I never bought any copies. Not one.

It made me sad, this story of my heart that was destined to while away its life in a place it shouldn’t have been. A year later, though, that publisher changed hands. We were all given the opportunity to take our rights back for our stories if we wanted to. I whipped that story back so fast, it knocked the whiskers off the cats. So now I had this cute little short story. What would I do with it now?

I expanded it into a romance novel, “Better Than Catnip.” I shopped it around. Over and over. No takers. Was my cat rescue story, the one so close to my heart, destined to sit, unread, on my computer?

Enter Astraea Press. Not only did they love my book, they only publish stories that are non-erotic. You always know what you’re going to get (or not get) with any of their books.

And you won’t be afraid to loan it to your mother.

* * *
Ruth J. Hartman is a published author as well as a licensed dental hygienist. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of 30 years and their two very spoiled cats.

Ruth’s sweet, humorous romances revolve around dentistry, cats, or both. More about her books and writing can be found at and


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


16 comments: said...

Thank you for sharing this article. I love it. Keep on writing this type of great stuff.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thank you, Writerscash :)

J.C. Nierad said...

Oh Ruth, I'm so glad you found your story a good home! I don't know what I would have done. Hopefully, you can laugh about it now, but I imagine that was such a sunken heart moment. Congratulations on finding the right publisher! J.C.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thank you JC. You're right, it was that kind of moment, but Astraea Press is the perfect home for it!

Tara Fox Hall said...

I had no idea you were a fellow cat rescuer, Ruth. Glad to know you, and thank you for the very funny getting published story above :)

pat jeanne davis said...

I enjoy writing sweet romantic short stories, too. I know how you must've been so disappointed when you discovered where yours had landed. But thankfully your short has become a novel and you've found the right publisher.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thanks, Tara. Yes, I've rescued more cats than I can...well okay, I can count them. But still, there've been a lot!

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thank you Pat :). Yes, I am thrilled!

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Oh my goodness! Glad you found the right home for your story!

Jackie Bouchard said...

Oh my gosh - how funny and embarrassing! Love the happy ending of your story!

Anonymous said...

Yay-fellow kitty lover!
Sounds like your sweet romance also has nine-lives :)

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thanks, Krysten. Me too;)

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thanks, Jackie. I'm all about happy endings!

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Rcponders, you said it purrfectly!

Susie - Walking Butterfly said...

Haha! I am sorry to laugh, but it is kinda funny. What a great way to illustrate your lesson though!

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Church Lady,

Don't be sorry. It is :). I'm just thrilled it finally found the right home!

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